February 28, 2003 – News at a glance

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Interview: skiing Vermont ned-to-end
VPR’s Steve Delaney talks with Sylvie Finer, who has just finished a cross-country ski down the length of Vermont.

Common Level of Appraisal
School budgets are expected to face close scrutiny this year as voters head to town meetings. In many instances, modest budget increases are triggering dramatic jumps in school property taxes. (VPR)

School budgets
At next week’s town meeting, dozens of school budgets come before voters. And Governor Jim Douglas says he worried that voter frustration over rising property tax rates could lead to budget defeats. He says pressure on local taxpayers makes the task of reforming the state’s education finance system even more important. (Listen to the story online or read the transcript.) (VPR)

Canadian drug resale bill
Congressman Bernie Sanders is taking aim at a pharmaceutical company that wants to suspend drug sales to people who buy lower-priced prescriptions in Canada. (VPR)

Champion lands debate
Governor Jim Douglas says he won’t change an executive order that guarantees public access to all the former Champion lands in the Northeast Kingdom. (VPR)

Dean gains in NH
Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean has gained on Massachusetts Senator John Kerry in a new poll among likely voters in the New Hampshire Democratic primary. (AP)

Dean on Iraq policy
Howard Dean continues his criticism of the Bush administration’s stance toward Iraq. Speaking before about 500 Democratic activists in New Hampshire Thursday night, the former Vermont governor drew applause when he said the United States should not launch a unilateral strike against Saddam Hussein. (AP)

Funding for Turkey
Vermont U.S. Senator Jim Jeffords says President Bush has his priorities mixed up. Bush has called for Congress to find $30 billion in special funding for Turkey as he asks that country to allow U.S. forces to use its territory for a likely attack on Iraq. Jeffords says domestic security and education funding are more pressing needs. (AP)

Wennberg confirmation
Former Rutland Mayor Jeffrey Wennberg has won the endorsement of a key Senate committee and appears assured confirmation as Vermont’s new environmental conservation commissioner. Wennberg was nominated to the post by Governor James Douglas last month, and brought a reputation as a proponent of economic development and as a critic of Vermont’s environmental laws. (AP)

LaRoche confirmation hearing
One of Governor James Douglas’ more controversial appointees gets a confirmation hearing before a Senate committee Friday. And some senators say Wayne LaRoche didn’t help his cause when he failed to show up for a separate hearing this week to discuss the budget of the department he’s been asked to lead – Fish and Wildlife. (AP)

Indoor pyrotechnics
Governor Jim Douglas says he’s imposing a moratorium on the indoor use of pyrotechnics in Vermont. Douglas made the decision following last week’s nightclub fire in Rhode Island that killed nearly 100 people. (AP)

Champlain Flyer closes
Vermont’s lone commuter train is due to chug into history Friday. The Champlain Flyer that carries commuters between Charlotte and Burlington is due to make its last departure from Burlington at 6:05 this evening. (AP)

Heating fuel prices
There’s some good news for Vermonters who heat their homes with natural gas. Despite skyrocketing fuel costs, the Vermont Gas Systems Company isn’t planning to raise rates for home heating fuel customers. The company locked in its gas prices last year. (AP)

ATMs assist the blind
Want to talk to your ATM? You can if you use one of the 12 talking automated teller machines Chittenden Bank has installed across Vermont. Over the next four years, the bank will be adding the audio technology to all its 70 Vermont ATMs. (AP)

Lake rescue
A 35-year-old Huntington, Vermont woman who tried to walk the Lake Champlain ice from Burlington to Plattsburgh, New York, is safe after spending a cold night on the lake. Julie Negri had told her roommate on Wednesday afternoon that she was going for a walk. The next time she was heard from Negri was early Thursday morning when she used her cellular phone to call for help. (AP)

Murder plea
A former Essex Junction man is facing up to 30 years in prison after pleading guilty to charges he killed his girlfriend five years ago. Thirty-nine-year-old Mark King pleaded guilty to charges that he killed Caroline Baird Crichfield after a fight about money. (AP)

Sugaring season
Saturday is the first of March and that means Vermont’s maple syrup producers are getting ready to tap their trees and start boiling sap. There is deep snow in the woods and icy temperatures have so far locked sap down in the roots of maple trees. (AP)

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